Company History


Three generations of geological expertise have charted Tri-Star’s long and successful history in petroleum and mineral exploration and development in Australia and the United States.

The first of Tri-Star’s group of companies, West Texas Oil and Gas company, was established in 1979 by founder, Dr James Butler III and his son, James Butler Jr, to explore and develop oil reserves in the Permian Basin in west Texas, USA.  Dr Butler began his career in 1954 as a geologist working for Magnolia Petroleum Co and later Bakke Petroleum, for whom he discovered the Bakke Field in Andrews County Texas in 1958.  Dr Butler later branched out on his own after earning his PhD in geology and began working with his son, James Butler Jr, also a qualified geologist, in 1977.  Tri-Star Petroleum was formed in 1988 to explore in Australia. Father and son studied the coal seam methane of the Bowen Basin from 1990.

Tri-Star’s geological expertise led to discovery of major Queensland CSG reserves – now targeted for economic well development as part of Queensland’s booming CSG to LNG industry resource – and began the company’s long association with Australia. The Butlers identified significant coal and coal seam gas reserves in Australia’s Surat, Bowen, Georgina and Pedirka basins.

Tri-Star established its Australian base in Brisbane, Queensland in 1990 and produced Australia’s first commercially viable CSG in 1994 at the Fairview CSG Field (now operated by Santos GLNG). In 1998, Tri-Star also discovered the Durham Ranch and Spring Gully CSG Fields (now operated by APLNG).

The company acquired coal exploration leases in the Pedirka Basin in the Northern Territory in 2006.  Initial exploration indicates a resource similar in size and scope to major thermal coal projects proposed for Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

In 2008, James H Butler V joined Tri-Star. Mr Butler is primarily responsible for the company’s Australian exploration and operational matters, including well location planning, core analysis, feasibility studies and reservoir estimation. Dr Butler passed away at the age of 85 in 2012, leaving James Butler Jr and James Butler V carry on his legacy, continuing to explore for new resources. 

The company’s newest oil well in Kent County, Texas, USA, came into production in November 2013.